Obamacare Website Administrator Marilyn Tavenner Apologizes For Fiasco, 'HealthCare.gov can, will be fixed'
By Manuel Campos
The head of the agency running the troubled federal government health insurance website apologized for the website's problems Tuesday, during a congressional hearing, promising once again that they would be fixed.
"While the website can eventually be fixed, the widespread problems of Obamacare cannot," panel chairman Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, said in his opening statement. "These problems can't be fixed through a tech surge."
Marilyn Tavenner, the federal official in charge of the Obamacare website, apologized. "I want to apologize to you that the website has not worked as well as it should," she said, and promised the administration is working on the site.
"This healthcare.gov site is fixable," she said.
But Texas Republican Kevin Brady asked Tavenner why the site wasn't ready sooner. "You have had nearly four years to get it ready," Brady said. "Why should the American people believe you now?"
Tavenner said technicians had added capacity to the website, and that experts were tackling glitches one by one. "That is the gradual improvement you will see over the next four weeks and that is why we are confident," she said.
Tavenner was confirmed for her job by the Senate in May. She had been optimistic about the rollout when questioned by lawmakers about it in April and again in August.
Republicans in Congress have introduced a flurry of legislation they say is aimed at protecting the public from the problem-plagued rollout.
Senators Marco Rubio and Jerry Moran have a bill to delay - until six months after the troubled Healthcare.gov is fully functioning - the mandate requiring most Americans to have health insurance in 2014 or pay a penalty.
Fred Upton, the Republican chair of the House, Energy and Commerce Committee, has also produced a bill allowing insurers to maintain existing health plans in 2014 outside the new online health insurance exchanges - even if they do not meet the benefit standards of Obamacare.
On Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Tavenner's boss, will appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The administration says it's brought in a team of top technical experts and promises the site will be fixed by the end of November.